Uber File Leak Reveals History of Law Violations, Lobbying and Exploitation of Violence Against Drivers

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Thousands of leaked confidential files reveal a treasure trove of sketchy and illegal behavior by Uber. Uber files that were originally transferred The keeper and International Consortium of Investigative Journalistsshow a company that knowingly broke the law, went to great lengths to avoid justice, secretly lobbied governments, got help from top politicians, and used violence against drivers to spur business.

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The leak of more than 124,000 documents, now known as the “Uber Files”, spanned a five-year period from 2013 to 2017. It covers Uber’s operations in 40 countries when Uber was still run by co-founder Travis Kalanick, who took on an aggressive streak. approach to the implementation of the taxi service in cities around the world, even if it violates local laws and taxi regulations.

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The documents, which include 83,000 emails and 1,000 other files including conversations, reveal for the first time Uber’s $90 million a year lobbying and public relations campaigns to garner the support of world leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron to undermine Taxi industry in Europe.

AT statementUber spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker acknowledged the many mistakes made by Uber under Kalanick’s leadership, but that his replacement, Dara Khosrowshahi, “was tasked with transforming every aspect of Uber’s operations” and “established the rigorous controls and compliance required to operate.” as a public company.

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“We have not and will not condone past behavior that is clearly inconsistent with our current values. Instead, we are asking the public to judge us by what we have done in the past five years and what we will be doing in the coming years,” she said.

Over the past five years, the company has continued to spend millions on lobbying and marketing campaigns to continue treating its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. The company also recently brought down shareholder proposal to achieve transparency in Uber’s lobbying efforts.

Contrary to Hazelbaker’s claim that Uber is a company reformed since 2017, when Kalanick and his toxic behavior have been pushed out, Uber continues to provide its service as is, even when local laws require drivers to be treated like employees. And despite violent protests and attacks on drivers that began well beyond 2017, Uber continues to work in countries and cities where local regulators say drivers must be licensed to operate a taxi service.

Let’s break down some of what’s inside the Uber files:

“Emmanuelle” and “Travis” by name

Paris was the first European city to launch Uber, and the city fought hard against the new tech company. French taxi drivers staged protests that often escalated into violence. But Macron, who had just been appointed economy minister in 2014, believed that Uber would help create new jobs and fuel economic growth. After meeting with company lobbyists in October of that year, Macron became Uber’s government advocate, someone who would work to rewrite laws in Uber’s favour, the files show.

Mark McGann, an Uber lobbyist, described the meeting as “exciting”. I’ve never seen anything like this,” and said, “There’s a lot of work ahead, but we’ll be dancing soon.”

According to the documents, Macron and Kalanick, who soon became known by name, met at least four times, including in Paris and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“The openness and hospitality we are receiving is unusual for a government-industry relationship,” Uber wrote to Macron, noting that she was “extremely grateful” for such a kind attitude.

Over the course of this year, Macron has been working with Uber to rewrite France’s laws governing its services. Uber launched UberPop, a service that allowed unlicensed drivers to offer rides at a reduced price. The service was initially banned by the government, but like Uber, the service continued to operate as it defied the law.

“Uber will provide a blueprint for the regulatory framework for car sharing,” Kalanick said in an email to Macron. “We will connect our respective teams to start work on a feasible proposal that could become an official basis in France.”

When taxi driver protests turned violent in June 2015, Macron texted Kalanick saying he would “get everyone together next week to prepare reform and fix the law,” according to the documents. On the same day, Uber suspended UberPop in France. Later that year, Macron signed a decree softening the licensing requirements for Uber drivers.

This was announced by the representative of Macron. bbc e-mail: “His functions naturally led him to meet and interact with many companies involved in the dramatic changes that took place in those years in the service industry, which had to be facilitated by removing administrative and regulatory obstacles.”

In addition to Macron, the files also show how Nili Kroes, a former EU digital commissioner and one of Brussels’ top officials, spoke with Uber about joining the company before her term expired. Kroes also apparently secretly lobbied for a firm that potentially violates EU ethics rules.

“Violence guarantees success”

The leaked files reveal a stash of incredibly candid and direct conversations between Kalanick and other high-ranking officials that reveal a series of unethical practices and contempt for officials who have not committed to helping Uber. Perhaps the most annoying are those that seem to use violence against drivers.

In one conversation, Uber executives warned against sending drivers to protests in France, which could lead to violence from angry taxi drivers.

“I think it’s worth it,” Kalanick wrote. “The Guarantee of Violence[s] success.”

In a statementA spokesman for Kalanick said he “never suggested that Uber use violence at the expense of driver safety… Any accusation of Mr. Kalanick that he directed, participated in, or was involved in any of these actions is completely false.”

A former executive told The Guardian that Uber’s decision to send drivers to potentially dangerous protests knowing the risks is in line with the company’s strategy of “arming” drivers and using violence to “keep the controversy going.”

The leaked emails suggest that such a strategy has been repeated in Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands. For example, when masked men, allegedly irate taxi drivers, attacked Uber drivers with brass knuckles and a hammer in Amsterdam in March 2015, Uber used violence to extract concessions from the Dutch government, the files show.

Uber urged affected drivers to file police reports, which were passed on to leading Dutch daily De Telegraaf.

“[They] tomorrow will be published without our fingerprint on the front page,” wrote one of the managers. “We keep the story of violence alive for a few days before offering a solution.”

Hazelbaker acknowledged that the company had mistreated drivers in the past, but that doesn’t mean anyone wanted violence against them.

“Our former CEO said almost a decade ago that we certainly won’t put up with this today,” she said. “But there is one thing we know for sure and strongly believe is that no one at Uber has ever been happy with driver abuse.”

“Death Switch”

Despite Uber’s public veneer of innocence and efforts to label irate taxi drivers and regulated taxi markets as “cartels,” the company appeared to know that it was operating illegally in many cities.

Internal emails show employees citing Uber’s “illegal status” and other forms of operating services against regulations in countries including the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and Russia.

One senior executive wrote in an email: “We are illegal in many countries, we should avoid antagonistic statements.” Another executive wrote, “We are officially pirates,” in response to Uber’s strategies to “avoid enforcement.”

In 2014, Nairi Khurdaizhan, head of global communications at Uber, addressed a colleague with a statement: “Sometimes we get in trouble because we’re just fucking illegal.”

Regulators, police, and transportation officials around the world have tried to shut down Uber. Some officials have downloaded the app and stopped rides in order to conduct illegal taxi operations and fine Uber or confiscate drivers’ cars. Authorities raided offices in dozens of countries.

This is where the “switch” came into play. If law enforcement gains access to the company’s computers, Uber will activate a “switch” that will limit officers’ access to the company’s sensitive data, such as driver lists, which Uber says will hurt its growth. .

The files show that Kalanick asked employees to press the “as soon as possible” button in Amsterdam at least once, according to an email from his account. They also show that this method, tested and approved by Uber’s lawyers and regulators, was used at least 12 times during raids in Belgium, France, India, Hungary, the Netherlands and Romania.

A spokesman for Kalanick said in a statement that such protocols are common business practices that protect clients’ intellectual property and privacy and are not intended to obstruct justice. She also noted that Kalanick “has never been charged in any jurisdiction for obstruction of justice or any related offence.”

(Kalanik It has previously accused of he paid the hackers $100,000 to cover up a heist that stole the personal information of an estimated 57 million Uber users and drivers in 2016.)

This story is evolving. Keep for updates.

Credit: techcrunch.com /

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